Marie de la Ferre : Called to the freedom to the children of God

From Poitou

Marie de la Ferre was born in Roiffe on the border of Poitou and Touraine in 1589 or 1590 in a region marked by wars between Catholics and Protestants.  Within her family context, Marie at a very young age witnessed spirited discussions regarding this conflict and stated: “I want to know the God of Catholics”. 
Her mother imparted a deep devotion to Mary, as well as a love and respect for God in the Eucharist. Since Marie had a thirst for God,  her governess gave her religious instruction and suggested that she pray and imitate Jesus.
Her mother died when she was 11 years old.  Her father then married a Calvinist who attempted to attract Marie to her beliefs.  Some time later, Marie went to live with Madame de Goubitz, her maternal aunt who lived at the Grand Ruigne Manor close to St. Colombe Church near LaFleche.
An adolescent who experienced her freedom
Social life was very prominent at the Manor and within this context, the young Marie de la Ferre, adopted a worldly life leading to a lack of interest in anything of God. However, in spite of her worldly successes, she felt alone and empty.  She confided in the pastor of St. Quentin who gave her two insights: God alone is important and worldly pretenses are short-lived.

A woman seized by God

On July 22, 1607 at 18 years of age, a spiritual event led Marie de la Ferre to a very strong spiritual experience through the Eucharist.  The Lord became present to her with strength and power.
From that moment on, at 18 years of age, she began an intense search for God, casting away her luxurious finery, jewelry and perfumes.  A spiritual advisor helped her to be tenacious in the midst of her worldly friends and family who resisted and repudiated her change of life.
A woman free to love and to serve
In complete freedom Marie de la Ferre began to be of service to those close to her, but also the parishioners, the poor of the neighbourhood of Ste. Colombe in La Fleche.
She not only looked after their bodies, but also their souls.  In the city she was called the “holy maiden”.  In her family she was the “holy aunt.” 
On the death of her aunt, she was free to make her own decisions, so she went to live with a poor woman, then at the request of her cousin Mrs. Bidault, she lived in  her family for 8 years, continuing to deepen her spiritual and apostolic life.

A woman open to the will of God

Seeing how Marie de la Ferre lived, her spiritual directors advised her to become a religious.  Four times she tried to do so, but each time she became ill ...
In 1634 a new spiritual experience during the Eucharist focussed  her vocation.  She had a “vision of beds”.  She saw herself in a spacious room with many beds ....  She consulted Jerome Le Royer, whom she already knew.  They shared their common vision.  “Mademoiselle,   he said to her, God wants to use us to establish a new community.”
On May 18, 1636, Marie de la Ferre and her friend Anne Foureau joined the three servants already caring for some poor people at Hotel Dieu.
The community was recognized in La Fleche in 1643.  Marie de la Ferre was Superior in La Fleche until 1650, and she founded a community in Moulins in 1651.
She died in Moulins on July 28, 1652.